INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR MASS TRANSIT
On November 17, the Senate approved legislation giving the state’s Executive Inspector General of the Governor jurisdiction to investigate Chicago-area transit agencies. Under Senate Bill 3965, the Executive Inspector General would receive the additional duties of investigating fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement and violations of law at the Regional Transportation Authority, the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace.
The legislation aims to give more oversight to the Executive Inspector General following a financial scandal that involved Metra’s late director Phil Pagano, who was accused of taking $475,000 in unapproved vacation pay and committing forgery. However, some downstate legislators argued against the use of state revenues to finance the oversight of local agencies. Proponents of the measure said that giving the Inspector General authority will streamline the investigation and oversight process.
GAMBLING EXPANSION STALLED
Lawmakers pushing for a gambling expansion this week did not have the support to move the legislation forward. While testimony was heard at a Senate hearing November 16, formal action on a gambling measure was postponed while negotiations on the package continue.
The latest proposal would authorize a new land-based casino in Chicago as well as new riverboats in Rockford, Danville, Park City and Ford Heights. The proposal also expands positions at current riverboats, and allows for slot machines at the state’s six racetracks.
OFFICIALS RESPOND TO LOTTERY CHALLENGE
Also during the week, state officials responded to a challenge from one of the three companies that were vying to run the Illinois Lottery. According to the Department of Revenue, Intralot S.A. was rejected due to prior legal problems and management issues the company had in other countries.
Revenue officials said the company’s legal and management problems were discovered during a background check of all companies who applied to manage Illinois’ Lottery program. State attorneys noted that the revelations made it impossible to consider Intralot as a contender for the lucrative lottery management contract.
In September, both companies who lost the bid to oversee the state lottery—Intralot and Camelot Group—formally protested the winning contract, which was ultimately awarded to Northstar Lottery Group. The companies later came back with additional concerns about how their formal protests were being handled by Revenue officials.
The Department is still reviewing the protests, but a decision is anticipated soon. It’s estimated that the contract could be worth more than $300 million in fees and incentives over five years.
Kudos to Senator Dan Cronin of Elmhurst, who had served as a legislator 20 years and recently resigned from his role as 21st District Senator to assume the position of DuPage County Board Chairman.
The Senate concluded the week by adopting a Senate Resolution honoring Senator Cronin, who is well known for his work on education issues and support of property tax relief measures, among many others.